JEFF LOOMIS

It seems like a lifetime since the first moment that I listened to his guitar playing and was impressed. Jeff Loomis is currently working on his personal album, soon to be released. Metalzone conducted an interview with him, and he talked about his music, himself, and, of course, about Nevermore. Ladies and gentlemen, here is what he told us: \r\n

\r\nMetalzone: You just returned from Los Angeles, where you played at this year’s NAMM show (National Association of Music Merchants) both Nevermore solos and instrumental stuff from your upcoming personal album. First of all, tell us a few things about this experience. \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: This was my second year attending the NAMM show and it was really great. You get a chance to run into a lot of musician friends that you don’t see for years and also you get the opportunity to check out new instruments and gear for 2008. I basically went for Schecter my guitar company. I’ve been using their guitars now for almost 4 years and I love them. I have a signature Jeff Loomis model out now. People are really saying many good things about this guitar. I did about 4 little shows playing some Nevermore material and one of my new instrumentals to showcase the guitar. There were many fans asking questions and getting autographs......it was a good time. The whole convention lasts about 4 days, so after it’s over you get really burned out from all the walking and talking....but it’s well worth it. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Can you give us a few details about your personal album? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: It’s going to be an all instrumental CD with about 10 tracks. I’m not sure when the release will be, but my guess would be sometime in late Spring. I’m working with two brothers by the names of Mark and Tracy Arrington. Both are excellent musicians and are a great drum and bass playing duo. I’m thinking of having Tim Calvert play a few solos on the CD and maybe a few other guests, but we’ll see how that pans out when that time comes \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: What will the musical direction be? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: The musical direction would be many different ones from all the styles I enjoy playing. But you could call it a Metal CD if you wanted because there are many heavy parts on it. I’m sure there will also be areas on it that sound like Nevermore as well. I do play in the band and some of that style will reflect on the solo record too. Sometimes that can be a hard thing to get away from. I’m really excited to do this project. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I think people who are into Nevermore and fans of guitar shred CD’s will also like it. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: What might this solo album “add” that you cannot express in your music with Nevermore? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: Well something that is really hard to do when writing an instrumental is to make it sound interesting the whole way through. You kind have to get out of the verse, a section, b section, chorus way of writing like you would in a vocal tune. So being able to express yourself with the guitar as a vocal instrument is a real challenge from my point of view. Being able to show the way I would feel with my guitar "singing" the entire piece is a challenge in itself, and this is how it’s going to be different than writing and expressing myself in a Nevermore song. If you think about guitar players that really sing with there instrument, Jeff Beck really does a great job of that. Watch the You tube video of him playing the Beatles A Day in The Life. That is some of the most beautiful guitar playing I have ever heard. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Have you planned any other shows in order to promote your album? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: Not really. I do plan on attending the Music Messe in Frankfurt this year. I will be playing too! From what i hear it is Europe’s equivalent to the NAMM show only 100 times bigger. After my solo project is done we plan on finishing the song writing for the next Nevermore release. I’m sure i will do some guitar clinics in the future, but I just don’t know those dates yet. Any of that info will probably be updated on my website www.jeffloomis.com. As far as doing live shows for my solo record.....I think that would be amazing. I would love to tour on an all instrumental CD. We’ll see what the future holds for that. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Even though, the diversity of your music fits perfect in Nevermore, have you ever thought of changing your music style, like so many other musicians tend to do after some years? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: No way. I’ve been playing this style of music for many years now and I don’t plan on changing that anytime soon. You have to remember that Nevermore survived the Grunge era that happened in the early 90’s in Seattle. Even though there were a lot of bands coming out with different sounds back then, we never changed "our" style. Sometimes this was a difficult thing for us because at that time, the whole Metal thing wasn’t really the in thing. I never could understand why or how many bands changed their sound and the way they dressed just because of a new era of music. My feelings are, if you like something and you believe in it stick with it. Nevermore has stuck by this rule of thumb from day one and I truly believe this is why we still have a solid fan base as well. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: You belong to the newer generations of guitarists, however you have a very big fan base, plus it’s a fact that more and more new musicians try to emulate your style. Can you describe your feelings about the whole thing? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: It’s a great feeling to know that I have so many fans that are interested in the way I play, however I think it’s very important that you try and find your "own" unique style. This is something I’m still trying to do myself to this day and it sometimes can be a difficult thing to do. I come from the generation of guitar players from the early and late 80’s that I loved listening to. My Father had a huge record collection that I started listening to as a young kid. Players like Brian May and Eddie Van Halen were huge influences on me, but at the same time I was always recording little things on my 4 track that i had at the time to listen to myself play to try and figure out how to sound different than everyone else. The key here is to listen to many different kinds of music. It could be jazz, classical or indian music, it doesn’t really matter just as long as you don’t root yourself into one kind of music. This will surely limit the things you can do with the guitar. Be your own person and come up song structures where people can identify your playing in 4 bars of music, then you will know you have succeeded in coming up with your own individual way of playing. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Sometimes, when I hear you or watch you play, I get the idea that actually you never stop playing during the day! How many hours do you spend in practicing, when you are not touring or recording? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: That’s funny that you say that because I really don’t practice hours a day like I used to. When I was younger, sure I would and could play up to 12 hours a day. Lucky for me I had parents that really supported me in my music. You see many kids today that have parents that don’t support them and see it as a hobby or something that they won’t follow through with once they get older. I think that just sucks because music is an amazing thing and can really open up a child’s mind into doing new and great things. Nowadays I spend more time on "writing" material rather than practicing. I do warm up before I play just because it’s the right thing to do. But honestly I did most of my practicing with technique and picking in my teen years. I sometimes go to youtube.com and type in a name like Frank Gambale or whoever and try and get a new and interesting lesson in. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Chapter Nevermore: Can you give us an update? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: Sure. I have about 8 songs written for the new record. I think they sound great. Very heavy and melodic. Warrel just finished his solo record so the whole Nevermore thing has kind of been put on hold for the time being. The last shows we did were in September in Japan which were amazing. I’ve never been there before, so being introduced to something like that was incredible. The people and fans there are really cool as well. I think everyone knows now that Chris Broderick has joined Megadeth, so right now we are talking about what we will do as a band for our future touring plans. For the show coming up in Greece we will perform as a 4 piece. We have done this before for a show in Sweden and it turned out very well. But in the long run we just don’t know at the moment what we will do as far as getting another guitarist. I guess other than that I will just continue to write more songs until we are happy to go in and record them. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Pat O’ Brien, Tim Calvert, Steve Smyth etc etc.. Is it as difficult as it seems for someone to stay in the permanent line-up as a second guitarist, and which are the criteria in order to “approve” someone’s playing? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: That’s a good question. Even though I’m still good friends with these great guitarists, we’ve always had a problem holding on to them for one reason or the other. That’s something i won’t go into because I don’t think it’s really necessary. Obviously Chris left to join Megadeth and that is a great reason for doing so. I can say that i had a great bond with him as a guitar player and will surely miss him. I thought he really fit into the band well. Maybe we just weren’t meant to have another guitar player. I wish I had an answer for that. But you can’t dwell on the past, especially in this business. You have to look at what the future holds, and that’s where I’m at the moment. As far as approving some ones playing....that’s not really the case because we never hired bad players to begin with. Everyone that has played guitar in Nevermore is and was a top notch player. We’ve only wanted the "best" for this band. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: The number of your fans keeps growing through out the years. Do you think that Nevermore has become some sort of trend? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: If we ever became a trend that would probably be the day I would do something else. I’ve seen bands become trends overnight and with that I saw people become bored very fast! \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: You are coming to Greece in a couple of months. What shall we expect from the set-list? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: I don’t know yet seeing as though we have not started our rehearsals for that yet. But of course we will try and make everyone happy with our final set list. We usually try and break it up as much as possible playing songs from each record. I would also imagine we will play quite a few from Godless just because it our newest record. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Some years back in time, Dave Mustaine considered your very young age as a problem to join Megadeth. Was that some sort of motivation for you to become the great guitar player that you are today? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: I literally moved out of my parents’ house right after I graduated High School. I knew there wasn’t any future for me in the midwestern Wisconsin. I had the opportunity to move to Seattle to join Sanctuary and that’s how Nevermore came to be. I think motivation and never giving up on what you believe in is necessary if you want to make it, but at the same time music is something I always wanted in my life. Plus it makes me happy. I see to many people in the world that aren’t happy because of their jobs and it makes me sad that they never did something that they at least enjoyed. I don’t make a million dollars doing what I do, but I enjoy composing music and making others happy doing it. Motivation can be a scary thing too. A lot of people will say "hey we can just do this tomorrow or next week." You really have to act on what you do at the moment or TODAY for that matter. Life is short, enjoy it while it’s here. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Speaking of Dave, I’d like your comments on the following. About a couple of years ago he refused to play along with the Greek band Rotting Christ, just because he didn’t like their name. However, he didn’t express any kind of negativism when Nevermore appeared on the main stage of Megadeth’s Gigantour, even though religion is one of your “favorite” concepts in your lyrics. \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: I remember reading something about that. I honestly don’t know too much about Rotting Christ and their lyrical content. I also wouldn’t say that religion is one of Warrel’s "favorite" things to write about. It is a subject that he does write about on occasion. I don’t know if or how much Dave listened to our music before the Gigantour either, so this is a hard question for me to answer. Maybe he just liked the way our music sounded. I guess he has the final say who he will and will not do a show with and Rotting Christ happened to be that band. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Too many bands, especially the ones that come from Seattle, tend to “blame” Grunge as the factor, which led them to split up in the early 90s. In your opinion, can a music tension or attitude if you will, affect a band in that extend or there may be other reasons behind such a decision? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: Of course it can be the reason. That was a lot of the reason Sanctuary split up was because of musical differences. I think Lenny Rutledge wanted to go more in the Seattle sound direction and Warrel, Jim and I wanted to stay more in the direction of our Metal roots. It happens with many bands. In this case something good happened out of it with the formation of Nevermore. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: How did it all start, how old were you when you realized that you want to become a musician? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: I was young 10 or 11. I started on drums and got bored with that. Starting on drums gave me a good sense of musical timing. I then saw my Father’s guitar and switched to that just because for me there was so much more you could do with it. I started taking group lessons at music store and got good pretty quick. After that I just sat in my room and learned a lot of early Van Halen records by ear. Then Yngwie came into the picture and it got crazy....practicing ALL the time for hours. I joined a few bands and won a few guitar competitions and then moved to Seattle at the age of 19. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Tell us about your influences. \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: Too many to name, but here are a few.... Jason Becker, Marty Friedman, Yngwie, Uli Jon Roth, Brian May, Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Beck, Steve Vai, the list goes on and on. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Have you ever taken lessons? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: A few group lessons as a kid and a few private lessons as well. I learned mostly on my own. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: What your advice would be to a young guitarist who is just getting to learn to play? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: Listen to all different kinds of music and try to do something know one else has done. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: What are you listening to lately? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: The new Meshuggah......it’s unreal. \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Extensive tours, recordings, interviews. What do you prefer doing in your spare time in order to relax? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: Reading, Movies, going out to eat at new and different places, cooking, spending time with family and pets....I’ m a normal guy!! Haha! \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Can you tell me a few of your favorite bands and albums? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: My first favorite album was Iron Maiden Piece of Mind. My all time favorite guitar record is Perpetual Burn by Jason Becker. I loved Kiss growing up. I get a lot of shit from many people because of that! \r\n

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\r\nMetalzone: Would you like to give a message to Metalzone and our readers? \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis: I can’t wait to come back and play in Greece. We have so many killer fans there. It’s going to be a great time. Thanks for the interview and see you all soon! \r\n

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\r\nOfficial Website: http://www.jeffloomis.com  \r\n

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\r\nOfficial myspace:http://www.myspace.com/jeffloomis \r\n

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\r\nJeff Loomis live at NAMM 2008 \r\n

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